I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic recently and while sorting through my bookshelf to donate to the charity shop (I have to do this periodically as I’m always buying new ones so my bookshelf is perpetually overflowing) I felt like it would be nice to revisit some of my favourites. There are definitely some incredible novels that I really love but also a few that intrigue me and would benefit from a second reading. From doing my English Literature degree I have definitely learned that you can get so much more from some books the second (or third or fourth) time you read them, things that you may have completely missed the first time or just didn’t appreciate their significance the first time round. So here is my list of books I want to re-read:
1. The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This is one of my all time favourite novels and I have actually read it twice already (and seen the film – I love Rachel McAdams but sadly the film is still not as good as the book). However I haven’t read it for ages and I want to immerse myself in it once again. The story is captivatingly original and imaginative. It is in essence an incredible love story but it is also much more than that. The story-telling is wonderful and the fantasy element of Niffenegger’s time-travelling protagonist is executed so well that you wish every bit of it were true; you leave rationality and reason behind as you are swept up in the story.
2. Beloved by Toni Morrison
I read Beloved in my second year at university and had it not been on the course I may not have found it but I’m very glad I was introduced. Looking at the cover of my copy now, I realise that it won the Nobel Prize for Literature and has been praised as ‘an American masterpiece’. It certainly seems worthy of such accolades – I thought it was brilliant. It is about American slavery but also about memory, loss and love. It is harrowing and terrible but it is also an exceptional book. Read it, read it, read it.
3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I want to read this again purely to admire it. The beautiful language, the glamour, the exquisite characters and the aching intensity of the story.
4. Watership Down by Richard Adams
I don’t know if this technically counts as a children’s book but it’s one that always stands out in my mind from when I was younger. I wish I could remember it more distinctly so I think that’s kind of why I want to read it again. One of my friends who has recently read the Harry Potter books for the first time as an adult commented on, not only how much she enjoyed them, but also how you can read an implicit political and social commentary from the books that you would never pick up on as a child and I have a feeling that Watership Down might have the same mutli-dimensional aspect to the story.
5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
This is a difficult one. Another of my friends absolutely adores this novel – probably her favourite, if not in her top 5 – yet somehow when I read it, I just didn’t get it. I know that people like different books and I don’t have to like it just because she does but somehow I feel like I might have missed something. It’s only quite short and definitely in the literary classics category so I want to give it another go. I read it in my mid-teens and so in my eagerness to finish it and add it to my precociously long list of books I had read, I perhaps rushed through it without appreciating the writing. So this is one that I’m not necessarily reading again because I loved it but because I think that I have the potential to!
There are definitely some other books that I enjoyed enough to read again that could be included in this list. However I know that some people don’t like to read the same book twice – why waste time on something you already know when there is so much more out there just waiting for you to explore? While I can see the logic to this, I think re-reading a novel you know that you like can be a pleasure, and what is reading for, if not to be enjoyed?